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Book Review: 'SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap'

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This is 1994, right? So why does Orenstein’s picture of education look remarkably like 1954? For a year she observed three California middle schools and, in the process, saw female students denigrated and skillfully silenced by male and female teachers, administrators, parents, and other students. Often the girls themselves were the worst denigrators: In one instance, they actually let a boy take over the girls’ science experiment because, as one girl explained, ”he has man’s hands.” Yet, through this retrograde traffic stride a few uncompromising students and teachers, most notably one Judy Logan, whose classroom brims with feminist books and quilts (one female student even says, ”Look at this room … stuff on women everywhere.”). Orenstein’s study should be required reading for all American teachers. And students. And everyone else. A